Hotel pools a factor in water-related illness outbreaks

CDC Parasites and bacteria may be lurking in hotel pools and hot tubs

A third of treated recreational waterborne disease outbreaks (such as pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds) during 2000 through 2014 occurred in hotel pools or hot tubs, according to a report published today in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. While most park districts and major water parks adhere to CDC guidelines, Dr. Dorevitch said if you are unsure, ask the pools aquatics director about the protocol to keep the pool clean and safe.

A report from the CDC revealed there were 27,000 illnesses caused by almost 500 outbreaks in recreational water between 2000 and 2014. Legionella, which causes the serious pneumonia-like illness Legionnaires' disease, as well as the less-severe Pontiac fever, was responsible for 57 outbreaks and 624 illnesses. Lifeguards are expected to keep a close eye on anything in the pool that may cause an outbreak.

The CDC said swimmers can take serval steps to protect themselves, including avoiding pools if suffering from diarrhea, avoiding swallowing water, and checking a hotel or water park's most recent inspection scores.

The report describes mixed progress in preventing outbreaks caused by germs spread through treated recreational water. The CDC said the number of outbreaks caused by Legionella increased 14% per year in each year of the study, likely due to a growing at-risk population (people over the age of 50) and better reporting. If you swallow the water it can cause diarrhea that lasts a week or two.

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The most important way to prevent these outbreaks is to educate swimmers. And it goes without saying that if you're bleeding or otherwise sick, stay out of the water, for your own sake and everyone else's. Those bacteria are associated with folliculitis ("hot tub rash") and otitis externa ("swimmers' ear").

The bacteria Legionella and Pseudomonas are the next most leading causes of these outbreaks, with 16 percent of outbreaks caused by Legionella and 13 percent caused by Pseudomonas. The CDC recommends hyperchlorination of the water in the pool so that bacteria can be killed. Because of this, the CDC warns individuals to not swim or let your children swim if sick with diarrhea.

Take kids on bathroom breaks hourly, and change diapers in a diaper-changing area and away from the water.

Before getting in the water, use a test strip from your local retailer or pool supply store to check if the water's pH and bromine or free chlorine level are correct.

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